Sales has to make the Top 101, right?

I went through 101 Things I Learned in Business School, a hardcover business bestseller by Michael W. Preis and Matthew Frederick. It’s an easy and interesting read, with 101 single-page notes ranging from definitions (a stock indicates ownership; a bond is an I.O.U.) to tips (a manager usually should have no more than six to eight workers reporting to him or her) to pithy quotes (Not to decide is to decide, by Harvey Cox). 

The authors say their book ‘seeks to present lessons in the areas of business that are most likely to be useful to you.’ But, if the often-quoted maxim (nothing happens until somebody sells something) is true, then why is it that none of these supposedly 101 top lessons directly addresses how to sell something? 

 

To be fair, the book includes several lessons that relate to marketing, benefit-oriented selling and sales management, including: 

  • Targeting the safe middle market is not necessarily a safe marketing strategy (#29)
  • A business buys a copy machine because it needs copies, not because it wants a copy machine (#52)
  • Customers do not buy a product or service the same way or for the same reason (#53)
  • A feature is a fact. A benefit is how it helps the customer (#54)
  • Promoting the best performer to manager is often a mistake (#67)
  • The real purpose of a visual presentation is to get people to listen, not look (#94) 

 

I wouldn’t argue any of these points but I am struck by the fact that none of the 101 lessons covers how to sell

Perhaps this is due more to myopia on the part of most business schools than to an oversight by the authors. For example, I am a graduate of one of the world’s highest-ranked MBA programs—but professional selling was not part of the curriculum. As a former university professor, I can likewise report that (unfortunately) few schools even offer a professional selling track or minor. 

I’ll make sure that a healthy proportion of these posts offer practical sales tips for executives, managers, and those on the front lines.   

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